Common Traits of a Successful Sales Channel Incentive Program

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You’re not the only outlet in town. Several places sell your products or services on your behalf, in different ways, to different audiences in different places.

Maybe you have a drop-sell partner, sell your wares through a concession inside another business, and a sister company also sells your stuff. You might allow other companies to white label your products, or have a team of Value Added Resellers. These are your sales channels, the reasons you need sales channel incentives.

While direct sales from your business fall under your own control, all or some of your channels might not be. You need effective, inspiring channel incentives designed to support external channels in making the maximum number of sales, maximising the value of each sale, protecting the brand, and encouraging people to come back for more. And that means you need influential, popular channel incentive programmes to support all those lovely third party sales.

We’re experts in channel incentives programs. Read on to find out what makes sales channel incentives essential, channel incentive program best practices, powerful channel incentive programmes, and effective channel incentives management. By the end of this article you’ll understand what’s what, and be able to take your first steps towards channel incentives world domination!  

What Makes a Channel Incentive Program Successful?

Let’s dive into some of the relevant channel incentive program best practices. Successful sales channel incentive programs help motivate sales teams to do their best work. You need to devise popular programs that will actually succeed, which means planning your approach methodically and logically like you’d plan any other change to the business. The task can be broken down into smaller chunks, easy to handle. And the whole thing has a strong marketing focus.

You’re marketing your wares to someone who wants to sell them. It’s a captive audience, but you might also face competition from other brands sold by the channel partner. It’s your job to produce marketing collateral, create potent supporting sales materials, and wrap it all up in inspiring messaging that goes to the heart of sales success. Here’s how to formalise it and make the job easier:   

  • The strategy stage is vital, involving identifying targets and defining goals. These metrics will tell you exactly what success looks like. What do you want the program to achieve? Pin it down to give you something solid to compare the real world results with  
  • Research can mean analysing an existing program to see what you can learn from its successes and failures. If it’s a brand new program you’ll want to examine the demographics of the target audience to give you clues about how to structure something powerfully attractive – how will you put across the many customer benefits of your product while also letting the channel sales team know how important their needs are in the process?  
  • The execution stage involves implementing the program, then monitoring it against your goals and targets to check it gives you the results you expect. If not, you can make changes based on what the channel sales people feel about the support you’re providing. Keep at it to maximise the potential  

Common Traits of Successful Sales Channel Incentive Programs

Sales channel incentive schemes that succeed tend to have common features or traits. It’s really useful to understand them so you can make good decisions around what to use, how, where, when, and with whom.

Tailored Incentives

One channel incentive scheme rarely fits all, which is why carefully targeting and segmenting target audiences works so well. This is where you pin down the incentives people will respond to best.  Tailoring incentives to an audience involves personalising everything to meet the specific requirements of each channel partner. When you also roll in the partner brand’s values, ethos, and the needs of their customers, it’s easier to define incentives that do what they’re supposed to do in terms of actual sales and real results.

Excellent Communication

Woolly content, overly-complex explanations, confused messaging, too much tech stuff, impenetrable jargon, it’s all a killer. To make sure your messaging is clear, simple, and therefore impactful, you’ll need to stick with the communication style used by marketers and advertisers. It isn’t about what you want to say. It’s about what the audience wants to hear. Use plain language. Express ideas simply, clearly and elegantly. Make sure your channel partners have a clear understanding of the rewards available and how to get them. Engage them in your world. Focus on their needs, not yours.

Realistic Targets

There’s nothing more de-motivating than a goal or target you know you can’t reach. Keep your channel partners on-side by setting attainable targets that deliver value to you, and to the partner. Make targets too hard to meet and you’ll end up with the opposite effect – a sales downturn, and sales teams who’d rather sell anyone’s products than yours. 

Measure Success with Relevant Metrics

You’ll need to develop an accurate system for measuring the success of each sales channel incentive you’ve created. Your incentives for channel partners should have a real, measurable commercial impact, not just be a ‘nice to have’. This means you need a suite of metrics and KPIs tailored to give you the insights you need. It’s the only way to know for sure how your efforts are performing. It can also provide clues about the things you’re getting wrong. Tinkering and tweaking can often improve things dramatically. Begin by establishing a set of benchmarks to base success on.

Provide Partners with the Tools to Deliver

You need to give your channel partners the tools they need to deliver success. Where do you start? Try this. Consider working backwards from the ultimate goal – in other words what the program is required to achieve – breaking it down into smaller, measurable goals that together meet the overall aim. It’s the same way you’d eat an elephant. Not in one go, but via lots of small elephant sandwiches. If the sales team needs printed supporting materials so drive more sales, give them that. If a website with all the fine details is what they want, deliver it.

Make channel incentives management work hard for your business

As you can tell, successful channel incentive programs share common traits and characteristics, and the fact actually makes your life easier. Put quality, intelligence, care and thoughtfulness into your choices. Follow the guidelines from the experts.  Treat it like a vital marketing task. Harness the right communication style, reflect your brand beautifully, deliver all the support your channel partners could possibly need. And make it a pleasure. 

Our superb sales platform system supports excellence in every respect. Would you like to treat yourself to a free demo? It might just change your business’s fortunes for the better, forever. Click here to book your demo, or contact us to ask questions and get clear, inspiring answers.